Moving from Cheer to Joy, from Joy to All,
I take a box
And add it to my wild rice, my Cornish game hens.
The slacked or shorted, basketed, identical
Are selves I overlook.Wisdom, said William James,Is learning what to overlook.And I am wise
If that is wisdom.
Yet somehow, as I buy All from these shelves
And the boy takes it to my station wagon,
What I've become
Troubles me even if I shut my eyes.When I was young and miserable and pretty
And poor, I'd wish
What all girls wish: to have a husband,
A house and children.Now that I'm old, my wish
That the boy putting groceries in my carSee me.It bewilders me he doesn't see me.
For so many years
I was good enough to eat: the world looked at me
And its mouth watered.How often they have undressed me,
The eyes of strangers!
And, holding their flesh within my flesh, their vileImaginings within my imagining,
I too have taken
The chance of life.Now the boy pats my dog
And we start home.Now I am good.
The last mistaken,
Ecstatic, accidental bliss, the blindHappiness that, bursting, leaves upon the palm
Some soap and water--
It was so long ago, back in some Gay
Twenties, Nineties, I don't know . . . Today I miss
My lovely daughter
Away at school, my sons away at school,My husband away at work--I wish for them.
The dog, the maid,
And I go through the sure unvarying days
At home in them.As I look at my life,
I am afraid
Only that it will change, as I am changing:I am afraid, this morning, of my face.
It looks at me
From the rear-view mirror, with the eyes I hate,
The smile I hate.Its plain, lined look
Of gray discovery
Repeats to me: "You're old."That's all, I'm old.And yet I'm afraid, as I was at the funeral
I went to yesterday.
My friend's cold made-up face, granite among its flowers,
Her undressed, operated-on, dressed body
Were my face and body.
As I think of her and I hear her telling meHow young I seem; I